Peacebang (http://www.peacebang.com/) asks for more on why I think Parker had such a negative impact on Unitarian Christianity and why "reading his entire corpus messed with my mind" (see yesterday's post.)
Answering the first question requires a little personal background. I grew up a Lutheran in the Midwest and later became an Episcopalian in the Southwest and now am Unitarian in the Northeast. The first I ever heard of Unitarianism was in discovering Ralph Waldo Emerson in college (an alarming 25 plus years ago.) I was immediately drawn to Emerson and in reading more about him kept coming across unflattering references to a people called "Unitarian."
As time went on, I started to track down and read some of these "corpse cold" personages and found that they (at least a few of them) spoke to my need in a profound way. I became fascinated with the short life of Unitarian Christianity (I should say of Christian "dominance" within Unitarianism as Unitarian Christianity is still very much alive)
So, to speak to your first question...Unitarianism was often seen by its detractors as a "negative" religion in that it came out of congregational orthodoxy. This is inevitable in reform movements and the hope is that with maturity, the "negative" expressions are replaced, or at least balanced, by positive expressions of the "new" faith. Part of the problem with Unitarian Christianity is that it did not have time to ripen into maturity. Parker must take a large part of the blame for this.
Emerson undoubtedly had the more original mind and the greater impact on the larger American culture. Denominationally, however, it was Parker who had the greatest impact. Because he stayed in the church, was so intemperate in his attacks, and, not least, because his church was so large and popular (the first and only Unitarian mega-church) he forced discussions that drove the denomination into a constant defend mode and didn't allow it to settle into a calm and positive maturity.
Well I could go on and on (I haven't even mentioned slavery or politics, both of which were crucial to this discussion) but will stop there for now.
As to the second question...Much of the Parker corpus is occasional and not systematic. It is, therefore, fairly topical and often deeply intense (see the photo above for his intensity.) A little Parker goes a long way and a lot of Parker goes a little too far (and all 14 volumes in one summer-well you see my point!)
Thanks for the questions Peacebang and...